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How We Met by Huma Qureshi review – what makes a good marriage?

A gentle memoir by a romantic journalist, who recounts what happened when, seeking to honour her father, she agreed to consider a selection of ‘suitable’ husbands

Huma Qureshi confesses early on in How We Met that she wasn’t sure about whether or not she should have written this memoir. It’s the story of how she found and later married a white Englishman called Richard. It is, she worries, “unextraordinary and normal and therefore an unimportant story to tell”. Self-chiding she may be, but her anxiety is not entirely misplaced: at a time when public discussion about race and culture is often shrill and self-righteous, at once accusatory and defensive, full of ologies and phobias, the quiet tone of her book – to say nothing of its guarded optimism – is almost shocking.

“Perhaps my story isn’t quite as dramatic as you’d hoped it would be,” Qureshi ponders. “Maybe you were expecting a story of oppression, repression, my personal trauma neatly spilled to fit a familiar-feeling narrative.” Her father was from Lahore, her mother from Uganda; both were graduates, and she grew up in Walsall, where even the most eventful weekend involved nothing more than relatives descending on their house, “cars parked up the road for miles occasionally annoying the white neighbours because of someone’s Mercedes half-blocking a pavement or a drive, the air thick with the smell of kebabs and biryani”.

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